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Monday, January 27, 2014
Patriots positional review: WR

By Field Yates

Continuing our positional review/offseason preview, here’s a look at the Patriots wide receivers (ordered by percentage of snaps played:

Julian Edelman
Age: 27
2013 status: Played 86 percent of offensive snaps, started 11 of 16 games
2013 highlights: A remarkable, 105-catch season. Became the team’s most reliable and trusted receiver. Was a complete steal with a contract that paid him just more than $1 million for the season and has launched himself onto the national radar. Also contributed as a punt returner. Will be a coveted free agent.
Current contract runs through: Free agent

Kenbrell Thompkins
Age: 25
2013 status: Played just more than 49 percent of the offensive snaps, starting 8 of 12 games played
2013 highlights: Was a surprise during the preseason after going undrafted, and added some youth to the receiving corps. A talented route runner with a slight frame, Thompkins contributed 32 catches and one of the most important touchdowns of the season in a thrilling win against the Saints. May not be a high-ceiling wide receiver, but a pleasant surprise this year.
Current contract runs through: 2015 season

Danny Amendola
Age: 28
2013 status: Played just more than 48 percent of offensive snaps, starting 6 of 12 games
2013 highlights: A Week 1 groin injury impacted Amendola all season and seems likely to require offseason surgery. That being said, he didn’t meet preseason expectations, though he did have exceptional moments highlighted by three 100-plus yard games. A better barometer of Amendola as a player will be discovered next year, assuming he stays healthy.
Current contract runs through: 2017 season

Aaron Dobson
Age: 22
2013 status: Fourth among wide receivers with 46.4 percent of offensive snaps played
2013 highlights: Had one of the better years among rookie Patriot wide receivers in recent memory, with 42 catches in 12 games. Offered unique size and a catch radius that played a part in the red zone. Looked like a difference maker before the first of his two foot injuries. A critical part of the development of the Patriots’ passing game going forward.
Current contract runs through: 2016 season

Josh Boyce
Age: 22
2013 highlights: Rookie fourth-round pick had nine catches for 121 yards, while also serving as part-time kick returner. Eventually landed on injured reserve with an ankle injury.
Current contract runs through: 2016 season

Austin Collie
Age: 28
2013 status: Played 113 snaps as he bounced back and forth from being on the roster.
2013 highlights: Made timely catches for the team in a limited role. Was released on two occasions and re-signed each time. Played well in AFC championship game. Reliable veteran who quickly picked up the system.
Current contract runs through: Free agent

Matthew Slater
Age: 28
2013 status: Totaled 15 offensive snaps but was a top special teams coverage player, earning Pro Bowl honors.
2013 highlights: Captained and once again led the Patriots as a special teamer. Impacts the game as a coverage player on the punt and kickoff teams. Locker room leader too.
Current contract runs through: 2014 season

POSITIONAL NEED: One postseason narrative for the Patriots has been the need to add more weapons for Tom Brady. That’s true -- plus re-signing Julian Edelman -- but the development of young players is equally critical. Dobson has such intriguing raw skills, while Boyce is a precise route runner. If those two make the proverbial year one-to-year two stride, the outlook in the Patriots’ receiving corps could be much brighter. Amendola must be better next season, but we get the sense that the groin injury impacted him more than he would let it be known.